Nov 12, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
There are certain rarities in athletics: a perfect game, a hole-in-one and an undefeated season. Another was achieved Tuesday evening as the Monogram Club was able to bring together student-athletes and their families, coaches, university and athletic administrators, and an NBA front office staff member during a very hectic time of the academic and athletic calendars.
The occasion was the Monogram Club’s fall letter jacket ceremony, which marked the first time the 100-plus student-athletes/student managers in attendance had the chance to put on the iconic coat. The jackets were issued to first-time Monogram winners from the winter and spring sports.
University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. (’76, honorary) opened the ceremony, which was held inside Club Naimoli, with a prayer and remarks for the student-athletes and their families.
“What a joyful evening as we celebrate the accomplishments of our student-athletes,” Jenkins said. “It’s a special thing to win a Notre Dame Monogram and there’s a lot to celebrate.”
Notre Dame Vice President/Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick (’76, honorary) also addressed Notre Dame’s latest letter winners.
“Tonight we celebrate not so much what you’ve accomplished, but we celebrate that you are now qualified to be even more,” Swarbrick stated. “You are qualified to enter into a family of everyone who’s come before you who has earned that right. By qualifying to do that you take on a special responsibility. For the rest of your life you’re identified as a Notre Dame Monogram winner. You represent this University and this athletics department in a very tangible way. I want to thank you in advance for accepting that responsibility and for always making us proud, as I know you will. And for always remembering that the talents, skills and dedication that got you to this point are the ones that will carry you forward.”
Former Fighting Irish great Matt Carroll (’03, basketball), who is a community ambassador for the Charlotte Hornets in addition to his broadcast work, was the alumni speaker. Carroll was a four-time Monogram winner before going on to play 10 seasons in the NBA. He was a vital piece of Notre Dame’s 2001 BIG EAST West Division title-winning team and he was the leading scorer on the Fighting Irish squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
“Your teams here are your family on campus and will continue to be long after your final game at Notre Dame,” Carroll said. “In college you do everything together. I loved that here you have team meals, pre-game Mass, you hang out in the locker room after practice, before games and after games. You go to study hall together, go to the Grotto before a big exam, and some big games. You travel together and basically spend holidays together. In pro sports it’s different; you do your job and then you go home. The camaraderie and togetherness that you experience here at Notre Dame as a student-athlete is very rare and very special. Hold onto and enjoy every privilege you have at this incredible University because soon you will want all those things back.
“Every Monogram winner in this room tonight is an example of a role model for a kid that dreams of something great someday. Whether it’s a kid walking around campus, or a kid at one of your games cheering for you, or at a restaurant when you have your Notre Dame gear on. A simple high-five, fist-bump, a picture or a few words of encouragement can have a lasting impact on a young child’s life. I didn’t fully understand this until I had children of my own and I saw firsthand the look in their eyes when they got to meet one of you.
“The Notre Dame Monogram will be a part of your legacy and future forever. You are now forever linked to this prestigious Monogram Club and what great company to keep.
“I encourage you to chase your dreams and follow your passion because when I received my Monogram jacket I would have thought you were crazy if you’d told me I would play 10 years in the NBA.
“Always strive to be a great teammate in whatever you do and whatever team you’re a part of. Your lasting legacy will be remembered by how you treat the people around you.
“I encourage everyone to stay connected to this University and this unique Monogram Club and with your coaches, teammates and classmates and all the wonderful people that you have met and will meet while being on campus here at Notre Dame.”
After each team and group were honored on stage, junior Emily Carson (track & field) took to the podium to deliver the student-athlete address.
“When I was finally granted the opportunity to fulfill my fifth-grade dream of becoming an athlete at Notre Dame, I was truly speechless,” Carson said. “From the first day I stepped foot on campus as an official undergraduate, I have been challenged to become a better student, a better competitor and a better person. Whether you chose to come to Notre Dame for its academic esteem, its national athletic recognition or perhaps its year-round tropical climate, I am confident that every student in this room would agree that Notre Dame is so special because of the people who go here.
“As student-athletes we are afforded the opportunity to represent this elite institution on a national stage. We represent the thousands of athletes who came before us and built the Notre Dame legacy.
“The privilege of being an athlete comes with great responsibility. We serve as role models. Our words and actions on and off the field are influential and can be highlighted as representations of Notre Dame’s morals and values. Sometimes the late nights, missed vacations, long plane rides and physical exhaustion is taxing. I would be lying if I said balancing class and practice is easy, especially when all you want to do is watch Netflix and chill. However, every time I put on my uniform with the ND insignia I am empowered. Representing the University of Notre Dame is an honor and makes me proud.
“I am proud of my fellow students who dedicate themselves to excellence and I am proud of the other student-athletes who are all invested in a cause much greater than themselves. However, most importantly, it is my hope that each and every recipient of tonight’s jacket is most proud of him- or herself. This ceremony represents a significant milestone in our athletic careers made possible by endless hard work and sacrifice. These jackets are something we earned, not purchased. As student-athletes, we embody the Fighting Irish spirit through our resilience and commitment to excellence both on and off the field.”
As the Monogram Club continues to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, it was great to see the excitement of its newest members on display!
2015 Fall Letter Jacket Ceremony
First-Time Monogram Winners
Men’s Swimming & Diving
Women’s Swimming & Diving
Men’s Track & Field
Women’s Track & Field
Ryan Barry (hockey)
Patrick Demetrio (football)
Giuliana Figliomeni (women’s basketball)
Shannon Kearney (football)
Cara Lucas (hockey)
Emily Morgan (senior football manager)
Matthew Schade (senior football manager)
Rebekah Stanton (football)
Andrew Vista (senior football manager)
Peter Wade (rowing)
Alex Wilcox (football)
Madden Zappa (hockey)